Eating the Elephant

I’m really very sorry that accounting for my daily computer hygiene is about as interesting as describing trimming the toenails. But the PC to Mac transition is what consumes me in the recent past and especially in the near future, and this daily slice of life is what has filled these pages in Spring 2002, so why quit now?

UPS shows the Mac (tower, monitor, and InDesign upgrade software) in Knoxville since Saturday morning. Just sitting there. Still scheduled for delivery tomorrow. Drumming fingers….

Just to prove I’m not totally geekly, I did attend the Roanoke Writers Conference on Saturday and found it worth giving up a day of my so-called life. I met Cara Modisett for the first time (after numerous emails)–editor of Blue Ridge Country Magazine, and we tentatively arranged for lunch and the grand tour of Floyd’s recent changes.

Also I met fellow radio-essayist Janice Jacquith who lead a session on–guess what?–doing radio essays. She inspired me (once I get used to the mac-ish way of doing things) to put more of my stuff online in audio format AND to get some stuff back to WVTF who stopped their regular Friday essays some months back but do them now on an irregular and unpredictable schedule.

I spent some time chatting with Gene Marrano, who among many other freelance involvements hosts “Studio Virginia” on the ROA NPR station and also writes for the Star-Sentinel.

I met Darrell Laurent, owner of the Writers Bridge who told me I looked just like he thought I would (is that a good thing?).

First and last sessions of the day were on blogging and on internet research, conducted by Keith Ferrell, former editor of Omni Magazine; we’d met a couple of times at coffeehouse readings in Rocky Mount. He still makes his living from writing, and has been significantly impacted by the shift away from printed books (like Britannica for which he once wrote a lot.) So there. I do get out some.

Oh, and I traded chain saws last week, so after more than 25 years of owning Stihl, I now will be hefting a somewhat smaller and easier-to-start Echo 400. I haven’t had much chance to use it, what with the ice and snow. And given my recent woodlot mishap, I’m not as carefree traipsing off into the woods alone. But next year’s woodpile isn’t where it needs to be, so I’ll have to pull myself away from the Mac long enough to tend to creature comforts and necessities. Hey, this new hardware and OS is a necessity too!

I have three writing deadlines for the end of this week and they are all done, just have to send them in. I anticipated the crunch and finished one on “the story of stuff” for the FLoyd Press, one on Geothermal Energy and another on the PC-Mac Conversion Experience for the Star-Sentinel. That gets me through til the middle of February when I’ll have to come up with other topics–these, perhaps the first assignments done on the Mac.

Speaking of which, I’m wondering what to do about “office” programs. I didn’t get iWork from MacMall with the hardware purchase. I’m thinking I don’t need much in the way of spreadsheet and there are online and open source versions I could use. I don’t need Powerpoint so much either. But I DO and WILL need a word processor capable of saving in *.doc format. I’m looking seriously at SCRIVENER  with an eye toward doing longer pieces in the future. I like the outline function too since that is the way my brain works.

So I’m clucking around here getting the nursery ready for the new baby, alien life form that it will be. I’m so obsessive I even vacuumed and dusted off my desk! Dear me, fatherhood will make a fella just a little wacky.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Fred, I’ve been watching and walking one step behind you on the PC to Mac move. Just got a MacBook and I’ve barely moved from the couch for a week.

    I figure that I’ll let you make the discoveries first and that way it’ll be that much easier for me!